Choosing a Tai Chi Teacher
Traditionally Tai Chi is handed down from master to student, but the master only teaches the basics to regular students. While teaching he observes the students and evaluates their learning progress as well as their character for six years or more before he decides which student qualifies for more advanced, or indoor, training.
It usually takes longer for the master to choose a student who deserves to learn all that the master can teach and to receive the honor of being the next generation master. Perhaps he may find one or two such students in his whole life time. Then the cycle begins again with the new master, who will pass his knowledge on to others.
Due to the strict screening a master has to go through, it is obvious that he has a high level of kungfu; is proficient in the Dao philosophy and principles; and most important, a respectable and trustworthy person.
Therefore, when choosing a Tai Chi teacher, isn’t it best to look for an authentic master? The problem is there are no regulations for Tai Chi teachers, so anyone can claim him/herself to be a master.
It is important to find out the following about the teacher:
The teachers direct lineage.
Who is his/her master?
What style(s) does he/she teaches?
Keep in mind that it takes a life time to learn just one style in depth.
The teacher’s teaching methods.
Are instructions clear?
For example, does the teacher show the precise positions of hands and elbows in Catch the Bird’s Tail?
Are there explanations as to why a move has to be a certain way and not the other?
For example, how Open Tai Chi looks in the form; how it is executed in Self Defense; and how a posture can allow/block the chi flow.
Is the style taught appropriate for you?
For example, a style that uses hyper flexion and hypertension may not be suitable for a learner who has physical limitations.
Tai Chi should make you feel relaxed and calm.
So consider the following factors:
Do you feel comfortable with the teacher?
Do you feel comfortable with the other students?
Do you feel comfortable in the place (physical structure) where you learn Tai Chi?
Do you feel comfortable with the atmosphere? Is the environment supportive or competitive?
A good way to explore these areas is to visit the teacher’s school and watch one or more classes.